Sunday, December 4, 2016

Not Just For Sinners

It's been a long time since I've posted much besides my missionary son's letters on my blog. He is now home! I have been wanting to take the time to share my thoughts on my blog again, even if it is just for me to have a place where my thoughts and the words of others that touch me are stored.

This morning as I was getting ready, I randomly chose a BYU devotional to listen to. As I was listening, I felt it was exactly what I needed today. It was Elder David A. Bednar's devotional from 2001 called "In the Strength of the Lord".


Directly after the sentence above, he goes on to say:
"We will become agents who 'act' rather than objects that are 'acted upon' (2 Nephi 2:14)." Elder David A. Bednar

For quite a while now, that idea has been in my mind because of counsel to me from a church leader to "act rather than be acted upon." This talk was another testament that we should not just hope that things get better when we have the power to change something. Elder Bednar gives examples of several people who prayed for strength to change the circumstance instead of just praying for their burden to be removed. We can pray for the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen us to do what we need to do when we cannot do alone. 

That is the part of Elder Bednar's talk that I was thinking about most when I again randomly chose another past BYU devotional. This time it was Sister Dew's talk "You Were Born to Lead, You Were Born for Glory". I have heard both of these talks before and I love SO much about her devotional address, but what I noticed as I was listening was that both of these devotionals stated that the atonement is not just for sinners, but also for daily use by faithful followers of Christ. I must have needed that reminder today.

"Brothers and sisters, do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? My prayer would have included a request for something bad to happen to my brothers and ended with the phrase 'wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren' or, in other words, 'Please get me out of this mess, now!' It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray, as I probably would have prayed, to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And may I suggest that he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew and understood and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement of the Savior.

"I personally do not believe the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect that he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands.

"Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully."
David A. Bednar

"Until I was in my thirties, I thought the Atonement was basically for sinners—meaning that it allowed us to repent. But then I suffered a heartbreaking personal loss and began to learn that there was so much more to this sublime doctrine.

"My solution initially to my heartbreak was to exercise so much faith that the Lord would have to give me what I wanted—which was a husband. Believe me, if fasting and prayer and temple attendance automatically resulted in a husband, I’d have one.

"Well, the Lord hasn’t even yet given me a husband; but He did heal my heart. And in doing so, He taught me that He not only paid the price for sin but compensated for all of the pain we experience in life. He taught me that because of His Atonement, we have access to His grace, or enabling power—power that frees us from sin; power to be healed emotionally, physically, and spiritually; power to “loose the bands of death” (Alma 7:12); power to turn weakness into strength (see Ether 12:27); and power to receive salvation through faith on His name (see Mosiah 3:19)"
Sheri L. Dew

I am so grateful for how much I have learned about the gospel and especially about the atonement as I have used it in my life to strengthen and lift me. The enabling power has helped me get through times when I thought it was impossible to make it through. I am grateful to know Jesus, not just about Him. I am sure that as long as I live, I will continue to learn more and to learn how to better use the atonement to bless my life and bless the lives of those around me.




Thursday, October 27, 2016

Polar Opposites

This is my very last blog post sharing a missionary letter. Alex will be boarding a plane in a few hours and leaving behind the life he's none for the last 2 years. I can't imagine the emotions he's going through, especially since he hasn't talked much abut them. But he did send a pretty long letter this week compared to his recent ones. It'll be strange for me not being a missionary mom anymore. I'm looking forward to seeing him again, and I have no idea what wonderful things await him in his life now.

Most things done by the community of the internet in America starts
off with "First!" Today, and this week, I'll be saying a lot of
"lasts." Thank you to all of those who with patience read all my long
emails of detailed description of what I have been doing every week
for the last two years. I am sure that it wasn't the most
entertaining, but just the fact that you've read it makes me very
>happy.
Scripture of the week is Mathew 1:24 "Then Joseph being raised from
sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him
his wife." The reason why I chose this scripture for this week, is
because it shows how diligent Joseph was in obedience. He didn't care
about sleep, or food, or anything more than he cared about following
the instructions given to him by God. If we don't hesitate, we will be
blessed with more revelation from God; I don't think that this was
Joseph's first time following a prompting from God, but a righteous
habit formed throughout his life, one decision at a time.

Kanji of the week: 最後 pronounced "sigh-go" and means last.

District pday. These four "large" pizzas cost us about 100 dollars
total. That's crazy!
We had my last district p-day on Monday, and we all had fun, we were
able to relax, and prepare to work hard the rest of the week. Not much
happened in the evening though.
Tuesday was my last companion exchange of my mission, with Elder
Livermore. We had a good time talking as we went around Hirosaki for
my last time. We were able to meet a less active, and help him feel
the spirit.
Wednesday was my last DTM (district training meeting). We were asked
to consecrate ourselves again unto the Lord that we may be worthy of
miracles and helping others come to Christ. With that we were asked to
join together in fast, the previous day from lunch until lunch of the
next day (Wednesday). We then had a DTM where we all bore our
testimonies, and then offered a dedicatory prayer to reconsecrate
ourselves. It was a good experience, and a spiritual one. After that
we all went to a famous restaurant called Osaka Osho and broke our
fast together. That day we also had my last family home evening with a
member, and my last English class.
Thursday was a regular day, and we went around and housed with little
fruits. In the evening, we went and had dinner with the branch
president and his wife for my "goodbye party." It was just us four,
but it the food was great (very Japanese dishes), and we had a
spiritual time together as we shared a spiritual message.
My last sashimi before coming home. I also ate sushi at the branch
president home, but didn't take any pictures, sorry!

Friday was pretty uneventful, but for the sake of mentioning it, we
had my last weekly planning session, and then housed for a while.
Saturday we went up to Aomori for my last time (I wasn't even trying
to type that this time). We had my last stake conference in Japan, and
it was really, really good. We had the mission president and Elder
Hayashi, an Area Seventy, come.
Sunday we got a ride down to Misawa, a place I hadn't been to in a
year, from a member in Aomori. He was great, and I enjoyed talking
with him. The meeting itself was great, but I don't have much I want
to share from it. Before the meeting, as is natural from being in a
stake (district) that you've served in before, I got to see lots of
members from Hachinohe. I had lots of good conversations with the
members, but there was one in particular I want to talk about.
One year ago, I was in Hachinohe. That's not news. But while I was
there, I had only 1 investigator in the 3 transfers (4 months) I was
there. And even then it was an investigator that was found by other
missionaries, that I became the missionary to teach because the other
companionship left the area, and me and my new companion "inherited"
him. Don't get me wrong, I love this man with every fiber of my being,
but that is the background.
That Sunday, as I was talking with my companion, I felt an arm wrap
around my shoulder and heard "long time no see!" (In english) I turned
to look at who it was, and it was that investigator. We hugged, smiled
and laughed together. He told me that he had gotten baptized after I
had left, and has been strong ever since. As we caught up with each
other, I remembered a scripture. "And if it so be that you should
labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring,
save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in
the kingdom of my Father!" (Doc and Cov 18:15) I was not the one to
baptize him, I was not even that great of a missionary then (not that
I'm much better now), but how much joy I felt to talk with him, share
experiences, and just know that if nothing else happens from my
mission, I did my part in helping one soul come unto Christ!
A picture of two missionaries with the recent convert I was talking
about. I couldn't get in the picture fast enough, but I
was in the background!

Thanks for putting up with my lasts. I hope that you all know that I
love you, and more importantly, that I love you because I know how
much God loves you.
Have a good week.
Love,
Elde
長老

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Rain

I just realized that I didn't post Alex's letter from last Sunday since this week was so busy. His letters seem to be getting shorter and shorter. I've been trying not to write him much about him coming home, but there've been things I have needed to ask him the last few letters. Hopefully, he's still working hard and wanting to make every minute count.


Halloween fries at McDonald's. Not the best taste, but not the worst either.



For those of you in Utah, I hope you get enough rain. You can take
some of ours if you want, because we've got a lot.

Scripture of the week is Alma 7:23 "And now I would that ye should be
humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of
patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being
diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for
whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal;
always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive."

Kanji of the week is: 芋 pronounced "ee-moh" and means potato.

Once again, there is so much going on, and I don't feel like I could
type it all up. Things are great here, and we are having a good time
teaching all those who will listen to us. I hope that you all have a
good week!

Love,

Elder

 長老
Our district was pretty tired, so we decided to take a picture that
looked like we were all tired.
A random place in Odate that has these cool painting.
 
Funny English on the back of a car        

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Good Luck

General Conference will be shown through all of Japan next Saturday and Sunday. The time probably differs depending on the ward/branch you go to, but it's all available by next week. Because of that and district(stake) conference on the 22nd and 23rd, I only have one Sacrament meeting before coming back to America.


Don't ask me why the subject of this email is "Good Luck." That's just
the first thing that came into my head when I was thinking of the
subject line.

Scripture of the week is 2 John 1:6, "And this is love, that we walk
after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have
heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it."

Kanji of the week is: 再臨 pronounced "sigh-reen" and means second coming.

Again, there is just too much to write about this week. Not to mention
that all the weeks are just blurring together now. I would just like
to share with you all, that I felt the love of my Savior this week. As
we try our best, and do everything in our own power, we are supported
by the love and Atonement of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter what
others may choose, so long as we are doing the things we are supposed
to. So please, keep trying your best--even if it gets hard. You will
be rewarded more than you can ever imagine.

Love,

Elder
長老

I ate a salad of my own free will! It was pretty good, because I
put sesame seed dressing on it. Yum!

Sashimi (raw fish on top of rice).

A new Black Thunder bar that came out called "Dark Matter." It is
basically a normal size of the usually small "funsize" candy bar.

Some really cool sights we saw the other day -- this one and the next.


Ramen-flavored chicken nuggets

A really small apple I got off of a tree in Aomori (it was on
public grounds, so I'm sure it wasn't illegal).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Elisa G Music

My amazing daughter Elisa has a YouTube channel to showcase her singing, and occasionally (not as often as I would like her to), she posts a new video. This is her latest one. She would LOVE if some people liked and commented on the YouTube video itself if you would like to.